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Hope paramedic resuscitates training program, wins national EMT award

When Security Aviation ran into legal trouble a year ago, 11 paramedic students would have had their training cut short had it not been for Valerie DeFrance. Rather than concede defeat and give up her classroom, DeFrance, an emergency medical technician (EMT) and paramedic from the Hope area, threatened the company's lawyers with a little legal action of her own.

"When bankruptcy was declared, the lawyer wanted us out immediately," DeFrance said. "And, to be frank, I just had a little discussion about 11 students suing versus letting us stay. He saw the wisdom of that."

To allow her students to complete their paramedic training, earn their licenses and begin their internships, DeFrance and her colleagues taught the remainder of the course without pay.

"(The students) were going to lose everything they invested, halfway through their class," she said, adding that the average cost for a student to earn their paramedic license is $10,000 for tuition, books and other required courses. "They were going to lose out good folks that just wanted to be paramedics."

After almost being without a classroom, DeFrance's students worked through the stress and the course's remaining eight months.

"It was a horrible, horrible way to get a paramedic education," DeFrance said. "They felt obligated to put their best foot forward.

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